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Assemblyman Phillip Chen


Assemblyman Phillip Chen

Assemblyman Phillip Chen

What’s wrong with this picture? California has the sixth largest economy in the world, but our highway system ranks 42th out of 50th states per the Reason Foundation’s most recent Annual Highway Report. That does not make any sense.

Along the lines of things that do not make any sense, the California Democrats have rolled out their new transportation package. The plan seeks to raise fuel taxes and user fees for motorists. But it doesn’t stop there. It also calls for a new tax based on a vehicle’s value and a new tax on zero-emission vehicles.

This is wrong and I will not support such a plan.

Furthermore, the hard-working taxpayers of our state should not shoulder the cost of this plan’s reckless and irresponsible spending increase. They have suffered enough.

The Golden State already has the nation’s highest sales and personal income tax, and the nation’s fifth highest gas tax. This plan would just be another burden to our working families and make living and doing business in California increasingly more difficult.

The California Department of Transportation spends roughly $10 billion on transportation-related expenditures. So where are these funds that the state collects for transportation purposes coming from and going to?

Currently, California charges various taxes and fees to its constituents. Some examples include paying taxes when you fill your vehicle with gasoline, paying sales and use tax when you buy a new vehicle, paying taxes when you buy car insurance, paying fees when you register your vehicle, and trucking companies who pay “weight fees” for the trucks that are driven to deliver goods.

These taxes and fees are imposed on drivers and truckers with the understanding that this money would pay for maintenance of the roads, highways, and other transportation purposes.

Unfortunately, Capitol Democrats have diverted this transportation funding to other purposes in the General Fund that have nothing to do with transportation. During the 2008-2009 Great Recession, many of these funds were used instead for backfilling education funds, health funds and other purposes. This was made possible because very few of the transportation funds are constitutionally protected.

It is my firm belief that all money collected from motorists should remain with transportation priorities, and not to unrelated general fund priorities. Period.

That’s why I’m a proud co-author Assembly Bill 496 which redirects $7.8 billion back to repairing roads, without raising taxes. The bill is built on three principles: California’s working class should not unfairly shoulder the cost; all money collected from motorists must go to transportation and not to unrelated general fund priorities; and we must work to cut bureaucratic red tape standing in the way of building new roads.

The bottom line is, Californians deserve common sense solutions, not more government. Please join me in moving California forward responsibly.